CGF FAQs and Eligibility

The following questions and explanations are meant to help potential applicants determine whether the AZA Conservation Grants Fund (CGF) is an appropriate source of funding for their project’s needs and to ease application completion and submission process.

What are the important CGF dates each year?

  • CGF applications become available in January. 
  • Completed proposals are due at 5:00 pm EST on 15 March. Applications time-stamped after this deadline will not be considered for funding.
  • Applicants will be notified of award/rejection decisions in September. 
  • If your proposal is awarded, funding will become available after 1 October.

Who can apply for a CGF grant?

Each Investigator (Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators) identified on the application cover sheet must have an individual AZA Membership at the Professional Associate, Professional Affiliate, Professional Fellow, or Student level. Institutional membership (i.e., those employed by an AZA-member organization) does not count as individual membership and individual members at the Friend level are not eligible. All others should be listed as collaborators in the narrative of the proposal and do not need to be members of AZA. The roles and qualifications of all collaborators should be described in detail and their CVs may be attached to the application if appropriate. Learn more about AZA Individual Membership.

Acceptance of a CGF award affirms that the recipient is a program partner of the relevant SAFE species program(s).

Does CGF have any restrictions regarding the scope of projects it funds? 

Yes. Beginning in 2022, only applications on behalf of approved SAFE species programs are eligible for funding. Submissions must reflect the program team's priorities and implement the team's three-year program plan. 

Proposals for new SAFE species programs must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the CGF application deadline, to allow for appropriate review and consideration.

Does my submission need to advance the priorities of a single SAFE species program? 

No. While submissions must reflect the priorities and implement the three-year program plan of approved SAFE species programs, some SAFE species programs are implementing similar strategies, solving for similar challenges, would benefit from similar research, etc. Collaboration among a CGF project and more than one AZA SAFE program may be beneficial, although it is not required, and should be clearly described in the proposal. 

Are there specific funding categories that I should apply for?

Yes. AZA has defined seven specific categories, which must be applied to advance SAFE species programs' priorities:

  • Animal Health: Research projects that increase knowledge of, or develop new approaches to, assessing or treating medical conditions.
  • Animal Welfare: Research projects that increase knowledge of, or develop new approaches to, assessing the physical health and psychological well-being of individual animals.
  • Communications/Public Relations: Activities that raise awareness of, support for, or engagement in the conservation of wildlife.
  • Conservation Education: Programs that raise public awareness and appreciation of wildlife conservation issues, stimulate conservation action, transfer skills and technology, and/or empower new conservation leaders.
  • Field Conservation: Initiatives on behalf of in-situ threatened species and their habitats, and/or the reintroduction or translocation of these species to augment their population.
  • Animal/Population Management: Management strategies and technologies for advancing a population's sustainability as well as genetic and demographic diversity.
  • Research: Research projects that increase knowledge of, or create new approaches to, wildlife conservation.

What size zoo or aquarium institutions typically apply?

Most proposals are made by larger institutions, however CGF encourages submissions from smaller institutions as the average rate of award success is equal amongst small and large institutions.

Does CGF have any funding restrictions?

Yes. Costs that are not supported include:

  • Salaries for staff appointed to regular, full-time positions. Exceptions include graduate student stipends, technicians, or start-up positions established solely for the purpose of completion of the project.
  • Tuition fees, or fringe benefits associated with graduate students or other collaborators.
  • Administrative costs, including institutional overhead and submission costs for the publication of journal articles.
  • Travel unrelated to completion of the project (e.g., conference presentation expenses).
  • Planning meetings that define, rather than implement, conservation goals.

Does CGF fund multi-year projects, and am I eligible to apply again if I received AZA grant funding in the past?

CGF does not fund multi-year projects; each CGF grant is for one year only. PIs can apply for a second year of funding, but must do so by submitting a new application. The same component of a project can be funded for a maximum of two cycles. However, different components of the same project are eligible for consideration as new project submissions and previous recipients may apply for funding to support a different project.

Can I submit more than one proposal?

Yes. Since CGF proposals are reviewed based on their individual merit, there is not a limit on the number of times a PI can apply for CGF funding - even within a single funding cycle.

What is the average award for CGF grants?

The average CGF award is approximately $18,500.

Can I apply for CGF funding while waiting to hear from another potential funding source for my project?

Yes. You may apply for CGF funding even if you've already applied to other funding sources. You must indicate in the budget section of your CGF application which items (if any) were also requested from other sources and identify all other pending grants. You are required to alert the AZA Conservation office if funding is received that overlaps with the part of the project for which CGF support is requested. The AZA Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) retains the right to revoke any portion of a CGF award if additional funding that overlaps with the CGF portion is accepted.

The CGF only funds certain types of salaries, so how do I know if the salary in my proposal is acceptable?

The CGF cannot fund project-related salaries for staff who are already employed elsewhere, providing them with a "second salary,” nor can CGF support their long-term, regular employment, even if that employment is based on soft-money (e.g., grants). Salaries for graduate students, technicians, and start-up positions established solely for the purpose of completion of the project may qualify for funding.

What are some examples of acceptable salary requests?

  • A project intends to hire a local resident of Belize to provide support for an in-situ conservation education program.
  • A field technician in Kenya will be hired to help track cheetahs for a 3-month field season. This position is essential to the project's local capacity-building goals.
  • Zoo X intends to hire a graduate student from the local university to help with lab work during the course of the project. The student will receive a stipend as compensation.

What are some examples of unacceptable salary requests?

  • Professor X will be performing field research over the summer and requests monetary compensation for his time spent working, even though he is already employed by the university.
  • A zoo veterinarian is requesting hourly or lump-sum funds for performing assays for a research team, in addition to her normal salary. However, support for equipment or lab analysis costs might be eligible.

Do I need to get an endorsement from a related AZA Committee or Animal Program?

No. Letters of support/endorsement from AZA Programs (Taxon Advisory Groups, Species Survival Plans, SAFE) are not accepted, although coordination with AZA SAFE programs is expected and a Statement of SAFE Species Program Alignment from the relevant SAFE species program(s) must be submitted with the application. To assure program review of relevant submissions, AZA SAFE or Animal Program Leaders may serve as expert reviewers in the application review process and may express their support for a proposal at that time. 

How do I know if I need approval from an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)?

  • IACUC (for U.S. applicants) or the equivalent oversight committee (for non-U.S. applicants) approval is desirable for any proposal, but it is required for any project in which animals are to be involved in invasive procedures or procedures that may result in pain, harm, distress, or altering of behavior. This includes sedating or anesthetizing animals in the wild, but generally excludes samples obtained during regularly scheduled veterinary or husbandry procedures or emergency medical procedures.
  • In these instances, IACUC approval is required for both in-situ and ex-situ projects.
  • Every institution involved in a project must submit the project proposal to its own IACUC for review. All CGF proposals must include the Statement of Institutional Support from each participating organization to certify compliance with all IACUC approval guidelines. This form is included in the CGF application.
  • If an institution is not registered as a research facility or similar facility and therefore does not have an IACUC, the institution must become affiliated with a university, zoo, or other body that has an IACUC in order to obtain approval.

How do I submit a CGF application?

  • The application must be completed and saved in Microsoft Word format.
  • The application must be submitted electronically; hard copy submissions are not accepted.
  • All application materials must be attached to a single email sent to
  • The subject line in the email must be the project name.

How does the review process work?

The CGF application review is a two-tiered process, ensuring that only the proposals of highest quality and relevance are selected for funding. A detailed description of this process can be found on the Selection Process page.

What do I do once my project is funded?

  • Funds become available for disbursement after 1 October each year, and all funds must be disbursed no later than 31 December of that grant cycle year. 
  • Generally, CGF awards are granted directly to the organization of the Principal Investigator. The PI will contact AZA (8403 Colesville Road, Suite 710, Silver Spring, MD, USA 20910-3314 or by emailing to request the funds and will submit a completed W-9 form for their employer organization, identifying its IRS category and providing its complete address.
  • An annual progress report is due one year after funds have been released from CGF and a final report is due two months after the project end date. To learn more about the conditions associated with CGF awards, please read the CGF Grant Terms and Conditions.

What can I do to improve my chances of being funded?

Please see CGF Tips for Success for suggestions.

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